Taking action for our communities
When two natural disasters hit our nation, Scripps was there providing valuable information during Hurricane Irma from our Florida stations (WFTS in Tampa, WPTV in West Palm and WFTX in Ft. Myers); and in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, our journalists covered ongoing rescues, the care of thousands displaced by the storm and high water, and the very early planning of how to recover.
While we have no media operations in Texas, our teams had a drive to tell the stories of survival and heroism during the storm and flooding. In Florida, our footprint is far reaching and our audiences rely on us to provide life-saving news and information. We planned for the safety of our employees and invested additional resources to help those stations serve their communities.
More than 50 Scripps employees traveled from other markets including Denver, Milwaukee, Nashville, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Omaha, Cleveland, Detroit, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Boise, Tucson, Buffalo and Las Vegas to support the efforts of our three Florida stations. News directors, producers, photographers, meteorologists, reporters, editors, engineers, production crews relocated to assist the local efforts. They helped with the sheer volume of coverage and served as replacements to give the local crews a much-needed break.
The additional people power enabled our stations to completely cover their viewing area. The ever-changing direction of Irma made it necessary to have additional crews at each of the stations. Since the size of the storm was so wide, the winds impacted both coasts of the peninsula.
In addition to its coverage efforts for both Irma and Harvey, Scripps stations across the country tapped into their communities' desire to help the people of Texas by setting up fundraising phone banks to benefit the American Red Cross.
Our company vision is to create a better-informed world. Our journalists did that with their coverage in Texas and Florida. Our stations are living out our mission to do well by doing good through the collection of hundreds of thousands of dollars for relief efforts.
Scripps’ Harvey coverage: a coordinated, multi-platform effort
Scripps teams provided up-to-the-minute coverage of the events as they unfolded in Texas for both local markets and our national brands. Their reporting covered all platforms where our audiences wanted the latest news about the hurricane and its aftermath.
Scripps' national reporting team - Jace Larson (reporter), Socrates Lozano (photographer), Annie Taylor (reporter), Pete Burd (photographer) and Scott Sherman (photographer) quickly arrived in Texas after the storm hit to cover a variety of stories including the rescue of people trapped and the breaking stories of levees failing and bridges collapsing.
Zach Toombs, a reporter for next-generation news network Newsy, also traveled to Texas to provide robust coverage of Hurricane Harvey. He was there when civilian boats with a group known as Cajun Navy showed up to rescue more than 100 seniors who were trapped at a nursing home facility.
A crew of reporters and photographers from our Tampa station, WFTS, also traveled to Texas to share stories focusing on Florida connections and impact. Katie LaGrone (investigative reporter), Matt Apthorp (photographer) and Andy Delancey (executive producer) are turning multiple stories for our three Scripps Florida markets. One of the big stories is following a contingent of Salvation Army workers who were deployed to Houston from West Palm Beach in Florida.
A coordinated fundraising effort across communities
In addition to sharing the harrowing stories from the impacted areas, Scripps’ local stations are helping generous people in their communities to take action for Texas. Scripps employees quickly assembled phone banks at many stations while waters were still rising, to give audiences a means to donate to the American Red Cross during the week of Aug. 28. They also began promoting giving to the Red Cross via text, online and through 1-800-RedCross.
“As journalists, we often tell the stories of people involved in tragic events like this,” said Sean McLaughlin, vice president of News for Scripps. “Today, we have the opportunity to lead an effort to help those who have lost everything. We can use our company’s reach, spanning from coast to coast, to raise money to ease the burden on the storm’s victims. It is who we are at Scripps.”
While the giving efforts are ongoing and the overall tally continues to grow, the immediate response was impressive:
KNXV in Phoenix raised $185,000 during its phone bank over two days. That included a $50,000 donation from the Healthy Sprouts Community Foundation.
WXYZ and WMYD in Detroit coordinated a two-day telethon and raised more than $138,000.
WEWS in Cleveland also coordinated a two-day phone bank and collected more than $81,000 for the American Red Cross.
At WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida, the station raised more than $66,000 with its two-day phone bank.
WCPO in Cincinnati raised $100,000 over two days of afternoon into evening phone banks.
And in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where many people have friends or family living in Texas, KJRH raised $16,000 through its Monday phone bank. Because of its close proximity to Texas, KJRH also sent anchor Brian Sanders to Dallas, where a massive shelter is in place to accommodate thousands of evacuees.
The Scripps radio stations in Tulsa jumped into action with their morning shows on Monday morning encouraging cash donations to the American Red Cross. The radio personalities contacted friends and family in Texas while on the air to talk about their situations in South Texas. The stations changed their usual formats to focus on making it easy for listeners to donate. They also cross-promoted with KJRH to promote its phone bank.
Other Scripps radio stations also took action to support the efforts in Texas. In Knoxville, Tennessee, our local radio stations partnered with WATE6 to promote a telethon to raise funds for the American Red Cross. The effort raised over $20,000 in donations for the cause.
At WWST in Knoxville, the situation hit home for midday DJ Becca James. A native of Houston, she connected with a local organization in Knoxville, Remote Area Medical, to rally local donations of supplies for the group to deliver and distribute to those in need in Houston.
In Springfield, Missouri, the Scripps radio group promoted an early morning donation drive where drivers could get a donut and a free cup of coffee in exchange for a donation to support the efforts of Convoy of Hope, a local organization already in Texas. The drive raised $7,000.
In Boise, the radio group is supporting a local food business, Barbecue for Life, which is planning to help the people of Texas in the best way it can, by feeding them.
Barbecue for Life is asking for donations of supplies to fill at least two 26-foot trucks along with their biggest smoker, and head south the minute the trucks are filled. Boise radio is planning to promote the effort with in-studio and remote interviews asking people to donate.